Professor Susan Gourvenec was awarded one of the UWA Vice-Chancellor’s Mid-Career Research Awards for distinguished achievement in research in the engineering field. The award was presented by UWA Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Robyn Owens at a ceremony celebrating ‘Research Week’.
Susan has established her research career at the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS) since joining UWA in 2001. Her research focusses on seabed engineering with particular interests in optimization of foundations for floating facilities and subsea infrastructure. Her research has led to awards from the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, the Australian and New Zealand Geomechanics Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Canadian Geotechnical Society. Outcomes from Susan’s research have been applied in engineering practice in Australia and overseas and are referenced in international design guidelines. Susan’s research findings are disseminated to undergraduates, postgraduates and industry personnel through her co-ordination and delivery of specialist courses in offshore geotechnics and co-authored text book with Mark Randolph ’Offshore Geotechnical Engineering’. Susan also writes for The Conversation.
The CGSE would like to congratulate Susan on her award and thank her for her contributions to the Centre.
Prof Robyn Owens (UWA), Dr Phil Watson (Fugro) and Mr Peter Burger (Fugro)
The Fugro Chair in Geotechnics aims to develop a sustainable research group, to address key questions related to design and performance within the field of offshore geotechnics, reducing risk and enhancing engineering design within the offshore sector.
The agreement, which also provides funding for three PhD scholarships, was signed by UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robyn Owens and Dr Phil Watson, Director of Fugro Advanced Geomechanics in Perth and Fugro’s Global Service Line Manager GeoConsulting.
CGSE Deputy Director, Winthrop Professor Mark Cassidy said the partnership between Fugro and the Centre would help ensure research was targeted to solving real world problems.
Dr Watson said the creation of the Fugro Chair in Geotechnics was fully aligned with Fugro’s strategic objective to further expand its global consultancy business.
“This initiative combines the best consultants and researchers with the high quality earth data acquired by Fugro’s geotechnical and survey experts,” he said.
The PhD scholarships aim to facilitate the growth of high quality graduates in offshore geotechnics and engineering, with selected students offered the opportunity to work with Fugro.
Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering (CGSE), were recognised through two awards presented last week at the annual meeting of the Canadian Geotechnical Society, in Regina Canada. CGSE-authored papers were given the RM Quigley Award for the best paper published in 2013 in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, and an RM Quigley Honourable Mention as runner-up in this competition.
The papers were lead-authored by University of Western Australia (UWA) PhD graduates, Zack Westgate and Divya Mana and co-authored by their supervisors Professors Mark Randolph, Susan Gourvenec and David White.
As well as the academic recognition of these awards, the research has had impact in industry. Zack’s paper, entitled “Modelling the embedment process during pipe-laying on fine-grained soils” is one of 7 papers from his PhD, which has led to new methods for assessing the embedment behaviour of subsea pipelines that are used widely in industry. After graduating from UWA, Zack joined Perth firm, Advanced Geomechanics (now Fugro AG), and is currently based in Fugro’s Houston office.
“I’m now enjoying the opportunity to transfer the knowledge from my PhD into the design practices used by Fugro on offshore pipeline projects in the US and worldwide” said Zack. His research is cited in the international standards that advise on subsea pipeline design, and has already been applied by Fugro AG on many projects across Australia and worldwide.
Meanwhile, Divya’s paper, entitled “Experimental investigation of reverse end bearing of offshore shallow foundations” has led to design tools that are already being applied to assess potential anchoring systems for large floating oil and gas platforms offshore Australia. Her supervisor, Professor Susan Gourvenec said “Divya’s work focused on the need to develop efficient and reliable anchoring systems for tethered floating structures, which are one solution for accessing Australia’s remote gas fields. I’ve collaborated with Fugro AG to deploy Divya’s research in practice, sizing up foundation systems planned for offshore Australia”.
Steve Neubecker, General Manager GeoConsulting at Fugro AG in Perth, said that their close interaction with The Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS) at UWA helps to transfer technology rapidly into engineering practice. “The research recognised by these awards has already been applied to projects in Australia and elsewhere, thanks to close collaboration between COFS and Fugro AG. As Australian projects move into deeper water with new types of floating structures and challenging pipeline conditions, novel geotechnical solutions are needed. Our partnership with the university allows us to develop these solutions drawing on the university’s academic strengths and our industry experience – leading to award-winning research and practical engineering solutions that are applicable both offshore Australia and worldwide.”
Fugro AG supports COFS’ research as a Partner Investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in Geotechnical Science and Engineering, of which COFS is the Western Australian node.
• Fixed term (3 year) Appointment
• Centre for Geomechanics & Railway Engineering
The Centre for Geomechanics & Railway Engineering has an outstanding record of research achievements with a worldwide reputation. The Centre is part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Geotechnics. It currently has over a dozen Research Academics and over 35 full-time PhD students supported by significant grants from the ARC, Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Rail Innovation, and other industry funding.
The Centre is seeking for a high calibre candidate to work on a three-year geotechnical project under the auspices of the Australian Research Council involving the development of predictive models for soft clay behaviour under vacuum pressure with vertical drains. You will be able to plan and implement a field trial embankment, develop computational models incorporating complex soil-drain interface behaviour, and develop novel design principles and guidelines imperative for practising engineers.
To apply for this position you will need to address the selection criteria as part of your application which is located within the position description on our Employment website.
For further information regarding this position, please contact Professor Buddhima Indraratna on (61 2) 4221 3046.
Pic: Conleth O’Loughlin (COFS), Senol Ӧzmutlu (Vryhof) and Joris Roozen (Vryhof) with the DEPLA anchor.
An innovative offshore anchor designed by CGSE researchers at The University of Western Australia has already been snapped up by Dutch anchor specialists Vryhof Anchors.
The Dynamically Embedded Plate Anchor (DEPLA) was developed by Associate Professor Conleth O’Loughlin, from UWA’s Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS), and Dr Mark Richardson, a former PhD student at COFS.
The new anchor design, aimed at mobile drilling units and floating production systems in deep and ultra-deep water, would reduce installation time, costs and materials, Associate Professor O’Loughlin said.
Associate Professor O’Loughlin, who has been researching dynamically installed anchors for the past 10 years, said the anchor was a hybrid system able to sustain significant vertical load and required no external energy source or mechanical operation for installation.
“The anchor resembles a dart, and is installed using gravity, similar to other dynamically installed anchors such as the torpedo pile,” he said.
“However the main part of the ‘dart’, which we call the follower, is removed after the anchor is embedded in the seabed and re-used for the next installation. This leaves the anchor flukes in the seabed, which then become the plate anchor.”
Associate Professor O’Loughlin said global energy company Petrobras had been using a gravity-embedded design since the mid-1990s.
“But the rest of the world has been slow to follow,” he said. “However, one of the limitations of the Petrobras design is that it is not the most efficient – it doesn’t have a lot of capacity relative to its weight.
“The DEPLA boasts all the installation advantages of the torpedo pile, but is much more efficient at resisting load, meaning that much smaller and cheaper units can be used for mooring offshore facilities. Being able to re-use the follower is a significant bonus.”
Vryhof project director Senol Ozmutlu said results indicated the DEPLA exhibited similar behaviour to other dynamically installed anchors during installation, but with much higher capacities and predictability than other dynamically installed anchors that resisted load in friction.
The DEPLA has been tested at model scale in the geotechnical centrifuge facilities at COFS. In these experiments, soil samples are spun at up to 200 times Earth’s gravity, creating stress conditions in the centrifuge sample that are equivalent to tens of metres of the seabed.
The DEPLA was put through its paces in these tests, with the centrifuge data playing a pivotal role in informing the final design concept. This is now a well-accepted approach for obtaining performance data of geotechnical systems and COFS is a world leader, with both beam and drum centrifuge facilities that are heavily utilised by the offshore industry worldwide.
Vryhof’s Business Development Director Leo Bello said the company was extremely happy with the new anchor.
“It will give us a reliable product for ultra-deep water uses that will help our clients reduce their overall mooring cost,” Mr Bello said. “The DEPLA combines the advantages of dynamically installed anchors and vertically loaded anchors and is fully patented.”
The DEPLA has been extensively tested at a quarter scale and it will be now Vryhof ‘s task to engineer and test a full-scale prototype.
“Vryhof was the ideal industry partner to continue development of the DEPLA and we look forward to assisting them in making it a real prospect for the offshore industry” Associate Professor O’Loughlin said.
PhD student S.M. Ali Tasalloti from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering and the Centre for Geotechnical Railway Engineering (GRE) won the 2014 Young Professionals Geotechnical Competition open to both industry and academia.
The competition, held in Sydney, was hosted by the Australian Geomechanics Society and Institution of Engineers Australia.
Ali’s presentation, based on his PhD research, was conducted in front of a packed audience at the Engineers Australia Auditorium in Chatswood. Ali’s PhD research is supervised by Prof. Buddhima Indraratna, Dr Ana Heitor, and A/Prof. Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn, and this is part of an ARC-Linkage project in collaboration with Port Kembla Port Corporation, Douglas Partners, Coffey Geotechnics, Menard Bachy, BHP Billiton and ASMS.
The research team was tasked with the development of a suitable reclamation fill for Port Kembla Outer Harbour extension, as the conventionally dredged marine soils were found to be environmentally and geotechnically unacceptable. Therefore the proposed project included the potential utilization of blended steel furnace slag and coal wash, as a substitute for conventional natural fills for offshore reclamation. The blended Steel Slag and Coalwash material was tested in SMART geotechnical Laboratories for ensuring the desired strength and deformation properties, before being tested in a field trial in Port Kembla, and since then a considerable area of the Port is now reclaimed using this blended mix with great success.
Ali faced stiff competition with excellent presentations from several young professionals from academia and industry, where the judging panel consisting of several academics and industry colleagues, considered the quality of both written papers (published in the Australian Geomechanics Journal) plus the oral presentations in selecting the overall winner.
PhD Scholarship available in Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, The University of Newcastle, Australia.
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a PhD scholarship to investigate the mechanisms governing laboratory and in situ testing in soft natural clays. The multifaceted research project will involve an intriguing blend of laboratory testing of high-quality undisturbed samples recovered from the Centre’s National Soft Soil Test Facility at Ballina, NSW, and advanced numerical simulations of soil tests allowing for very large deformations.
This project is part of the Centre’s research themes on Geomaterials Science and Moving Boundary Problems. Its focus will be on the development of novel testing procedures, together with the modelling of strain softening and rate effects on the shear strength of clays in large deformation boundary value problems.
Suitable candidates will have a Civil Engineering background, preferably with an MSc in Geomechanics or Computational Mechanics. candidates should have relevant experience in computer programming and/or laboratory testing.
The scholarship stipend will depend on the merit of the candidate, and will be in the range of AUD 30,000 – 35,000 p.a. (tax free) for three years.
Please submit expressions of interest along with a copy of your CV to Dr. George Kouretzis. Email George for further information.
Closing date for applications: 31 August 2014
The scholarship is available to commence immediately.
Dr Shanyong Wang won a successful bid for a Future Fellowship with a total value of $761,579 over 4 years.
This project aims to investigate the fundamentals of fracture-controlled compensation grouting in various types of soil, so as to optimise the compensation efficiency and to minimise the risk of collapse of nearby structures. This will result in the minimisation of ground movements induced by underground excavations, which pose a major threat to existing infrastructure and communities worldwide. Small-scale laboratory experiments, centrifuge tests and numerical analyses will be conducted to develop an effective and economical grouting method that will provide a valuable design tool for engineers.
CGSE researchers Shazzad Hossain, Mark Cassidy and Yuxia Hu were awarded an ARC Linkage Project Grant for their project “Investigation of alternative footing shapes to mitigate instabilities during installation of offshore drilling platforms”.
CGSE, through COFS, will partner with three researchers, Dr Jonghwa Won, Dr Jong-Sik Park and Dr Seong-Jong Kim, from the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. (DSME), Korea. They will actively participate and contribute to the project.
Footings for mobile drilling (jack-up) rigs exhibit significant failure rate in the offshore oil and gas industry, costing $5~50 million per incident. The project will develop new spudcan shapes that are better suited to eliminate risk of failure during the installation of jack-ups in emerging oil and gas frontiers of Australia and around the world. Innovation through physical and numerical modelling will ensure world leading training for 1 Postdoctoral Fellow and 2 PhD students.
The research will foster the advancement of unlocking of Australia’s stranded oil and gas reserves, particularly as the industry moves towards more complex seabed conditions.
Picture: Jonghwa Won, Youngho Kim, Shazzad Hossain, Stefanus Safinus, Joonmo Lee at Daewoo shipyard
Mr Hassan Sabetamal, a PhD student in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, has won the prestigious Australian Geomechanics Society NSW Research Award for research in Geotechnical Engineering or Engineering Geology.
This award recognises novelty, originality, and industry relevance and was given for his work on “Finite Element Algorithms for Dynamic Analysis of Geotechnical Problems”.
This research describes new computational algorithms for the analysis and design of a wide range of energy and transport infrastructure, such as building foundations, bridge foundations, offshore oil and gas facilities, retaining walls, slopes and tunnels, which are subject to dynamic loads. These types of loads occur frequently in practice, particularly under earthquake conditions, and are difficult to model using conventional techniques. Mr Sabetamal, who is supervised by Dr Majid Nazem, Prof Scott Sloan and Prof John Carter, has also done cutting-edge work on the modelling of contact mechanics, which describes the complex behaviour that occurs at soil-structure interfaces.